Hellboy: Oddest Jobs Page 5

He was climbing on it as it pushed forward, trying to kill our hero (that would be me, if you re wondering), and it heaved steam off its surface in big, hot waves. The heat didn't bother me. Heat I can do. I'm not crazy about cold, but heat, that's my element, baby.

Anyway, I was pinned at a high point on the engine, and I could see the Reverend scrambling up there, using that trench coat, and he got up close to the stack, and out came his bag of tricks, which was mostly a large bottle of something that I figured was Holy Water, and with a deft flick of the wrist, he tossed it inside the stack.

Nothing happened.

At least not at first.

And then there was a sound from inside the engine like a hungry stomach rumbling, and then another sound, like someone demure passing a fart in attempted secrecy, and then the engine exploded in a blur of shadows and steam. It was such an explosion that it knocked down the wall my back was pressed against. It sent me ass over hooves through the general store and through the far wall and into a boutique store and rolled me right over the ladies' section. When I stood up from all that, I was wearing women's panties on my head, and my arm, the Big One, was draped with a nice pink teddy.

I charged through the ruins, the teddy and the panties flying free, crunched over the glass and the charred lumber. I found particles of the engine. They appeared to be flesh and bone, bleeding blood the color of rerun thirty-weight oil. Its ribs were sticking up here and there and the front of the engine, the great light, had burst open, and there was a big eye on tendons inside, and it was dangling out in the dirt, squirming. It was about the size of a grapefruit, but less appetizing.

I stomped it and it squirted like a water balloon. It was kind of nauseating, not to mention creepy, but you know how fun it is to stomp things that squirt. I looked around for the Reverend, didn't see him.

I heard a creak, and I looked. It was one of the boxcars. The door came open. And something came out of it, so quick at first I couldn't recognize what it was, but between breaths it moved again, and this time I saw it real good, because it was right up in my face, and it definitely needed a breath mint. It was a dragon, a kind of wavery dragon, all black with wet black eyes that somehow seemed blacker than the rest of it. It breathed black flames.

I wrinkled my nose. The breath stank, but as you know, the fire didn't bother me. I felt like I was in a comfortable sauna. I punched the dragon and my hand went right through it. It wasn't like the train. It wasn't solid.

Except when it hit me with a swipe of one of its talons. When it did that I can attest to the Amen Corner (testify, brother), that the dragon was as solid as a wall of politician lies. It knocked me winding. Swatted me so hard that I hit the ground with enough impact to crack the highway and send up twirls of dust that filled my nose and pissed me off.

I pushed up, and there came the dragon, beating its great wings and skimming low over the earth. I thought about my Big Gun with the Big Bullets, and realized when the engine had hit me, it had been knocked out of my grasp. I tried to duck, but the dragon hit me. It wasn't any worse than being clipped by a 747. I went flying and twisting along the ground (hey, got a glimpse of the Reverend, lying over in the dirt, taking a nap while I'm doing the hard work). I had no sooner stopped than I felt myself being lifted. The dragon had me, was flying up toward the moon.

We went up and up and I tried to twist free, then I decided maybe that wasn't what I wanted. And then a very odd thing happened. The dragon bumped into the moon. The moon shook and rattled like a dinner platter, and I realized that this fake moon was not so high up and neither was the sky, and neither were we.

I twisted and got hold of my personal bag of tricks, and jerked out a lucky horseshoe (blessed by a holy man whose horse had died), and managed to bend a little so that I was in front of the dragons face, tight in its talons. The dragon gave me another fire bath, but that was nothing. I cocked back my arm (not the Big One) and threw the horseshoe into the mouth of the black-fire-breathing dragon. The horseshoe melted a little, but it went in, and the dragon gulped, and then it did a thing with its throat, like it was about to bleat like a sheep, but no sound came out. No fire came out. There was a small sound that I can't think of any neat simile or metaphor to describe, and then the dragon let me go.

It was actually higher up than I thought. I hit the ground pretty darn hard. I made an impact that left a small crater. I crawled out of the crater and looked up. The dragon was twisting and turning all over the sky. You know how you blow up a balloon and you pinch off the bottom of it with your thumb and your forefinger, and then you let go, and the air starts coming out of the balloon, shooting it up and all over? It was like that.

The dragon collided with the moon. The moon shook, swung down a little, then came loose of its fixings, clattered to the ground. I looked where it had been. There was a little hook up there, like the sort of thing you'd hang a picture on. Whoever had created this universe within the real one was doing it in a very methodical and cheap manner. Anyway, about that dragon. He spewed this way and that, finally hit the ground and broke apart in a burst of shadows.

Without the moon up there it was really dark, but I see well in the dark. I started walking back toward the overturned boxcars, and the couple that were still upright. One of which had been the source for the dragon.

I stopped and thought things over. Maybe I didn't want to do that just yet. I went back to the wreckage of the building and looked around and found my Big Gun with the Big Bullets, went back to the boxcars.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are," I said, "because you don't want me to come in there after you."


Inside the train, Wilbur, an ebony body with shiny ridge-like muscles, a skull like a huge, bumpy turnip, arose from his bed. When he did, the black satin sheet fell away, and he saw his darling, Naomi, exposed. Naked and beautiful as a Frazetta heroine, dark as sin, shiny as fresh-licked licorice. He was everything here he wasn't back there, in the world. He was strong and virile as Tarzan and Conan, crafty as Elak of Atlantis. He was all the heroes of his memory and his imagination. But he was a lot more pissed off.

He tried to will his train back together, but he couldn't. Someone out there was messing with his thoughts by messing with his train, and they had to be stopped. He could sense his dragon was dead. The one he had once worn around his neck. It was dead. But there were others, and he called out to them, and they came out of the shadows in a clutch of beating wings and spurts of dark flame and hisses of chocolate-colored steam.

"Take him," said he who was master of all he surveyed.

Further excerpts from Hellboy's report

I'm creeping up, you see, quiet as a mouse in sneakers, some of those gel cushions on the shoe soles, that's how quiet I am, and the side door of the boxcar flies open, and out comes a whole batch of shadow dragons. They aren't as big as the guy I dealt with before, and their eyes are red, like burning coals, as we like to say when referencing hell. They're smaller boogers than the one I dealt with before. They are whipping about like huge dragonflies. They do not look happy, and they do not hesitate to take in the sights, speculate on the nature of the universe. They come right at me, moving like jets.

I have my Big Gun with the Big Bullets pointed, but before I can fire, a shot comes from off to my right. I glance, and there's the Reverend Jim Jeff, walking toward the dragons with his head turned slightly to the side like a curious dog, walking like he has one foot in a ditch, the other on a stump, and he's firing fast, with his big gun, which is not really all that big, and he's not hitting every shot, because I think inside his head he's still spinning from that explosion, probably can't hear a thing, got a humming in his head like a sea-shell pressed to the ear. Didn't bother me a bit, that explosion, except it made some holes in my nifty trench coat, but I been around regular people (I am, after all, an honorary human) enough to know how it could affect him. He also looks a little scalded; one side of his face is as bright as a baboons ass and a bit of it is peeling off like old wallpaper. The other side of his face has grown hair and teeth that stick out of one corner of his lips; the werewolf has jumped out of him after a long time being dormant, or at least a little of it has. That funny walk, he's probably got one wolf leg, and a long tail crammed up under his pants. That can't be comfortable.

He has a gun in either hand and they are barking like a cage full of dogs. Dragons are taking a dive; stuff in his bullets is enough for these guys. I get off some shots, drop two, and then one has me. I can't get a good shot at him. We wrestle all over the ground, me dropping the Big Gun again, him holding onto my trench coat with one talon, trying to scratch my eyes out with the other, succeeding primarily in making my face look like a tic-tac-toe board.

I roll up on top of him, try to get him in some kind of hold, but a stepover toehold doesn't work so good on a dragon. Finally, I grab him by the snout, the top one, in such a way I'm pinching his nose holes together, and then I raise the Big Right Hand and I hit him so hard he spurts into a splatter of shadows, hit him so hard the blow smacks through him and knocks a hole in the ground big enough to fill up and make a nice wading pool.

I get up and rush toward the boxcar, forgetting my Big Gun with the Big Bullets, lying back there somewhere on the ground. I go at the boxcar, whacking at dragons with my Big Right Hand. One of the Reverend's bullets clips me on the shoulder, sends a spray of blood upward, causing it to make an umbrella of red drops.

"Hey," I yell back at him. "Watch it."

"Sorry," the Reverend says, and then he falls down. Doesn't melt, just goes down straight and flat as a dropped two-by-four, shakes a little when he hits. Nose forward, right in the dirt. His wolf tail rips up out of his pants and waves in the wind, then droops.

No time to consider his condition further.

I rush inside the open boxcar door.

Inside the air was cool and it was dark and there was a stench so strong it could wear an overcoat and boots and take a walk. I moved through the boxcar. There were bodies hanging on hooks. There was blood on the walls. My feet were tromping through entrails. There was a black shadow flowing between the corpses and moving about me, and it was ectoplasmic, sticky as a wad of Kleenex beside a teenage boy's bed.

I went on through and came to a door that was closed, pulsing like it was breathing. I could see all this clearly, thanks to those nifty see-in-the-dark eyes of mine. It goes with my ability to see long distances. I'm a walking, talking, night-vision, telescopic kind of guy. (I know you know this, but I like to remind you of my skills because it makes me feel good and ... well, that's mostly it. It makes me feel good.)

The door was dark, but it had veins and arteries and they were pumping with the rhythm of a heartbeat. I kicked out at it, and that really hurt my foot. I did then what I should have done all along. I hit it with my right hand and it came apart and fled away in a flow of black rats and flapping bats.

The next room stank only a little less than the first, and the walls were the same, breathing, lined with veins and arteries. As I looked, the veins and arteries became less obvious and I could see rats and bats crawling all over the wall, or rather, they were the wall. The place smelled of not only dead bodies, but of rodent shit.

I went along the floor and the floor swayed. It too was made of bats and rats, and they nipped at my hooves, not causing me any damage (I have pretty tough hooves, as you know), and I came to a black (of course) curtain, and pushed it aside with my very fine and dexterous left hand. In there, on the bed, which was as black as all night, was a man, big and muscular and nude, his head propped against black pillows. His forehead pulsed like a knotted water hose, and beside him on the bed was a woman's corpse, split down the middle, the innards gone, the face gnawed on. She appeared to have on some kind of see-through negligee, stretched over her rotting meat, the blood from her wounds sticking to it like a bandage.

I thought, wow, now that is different — and, as you know, I've seen a few things.

He got out of the bed as if he might be merely thinking of putting on his pants and checking his mail. He was tall, taller than me, and he came for me at a run.

I ran at him, hard as I could. When we collided in the middle of the dark room, we made a noise like — pardon this — but it was a noise like two trains running together. We hit so hard we were both knocked backward.

I wobbled to an upright position. He climbed to his feet.

"I am a living hell," he said. "I am fire and brimstone and shadow and hate. I'm the whole package. I am all the pulp horror that can be in a world."

"No argument," I said.

And then he came for me again.

Hellboy comic panel

Splash page

Pulp cover style

Dynamic. We're talking so beautifully pulp it makes trees in the forest tremble for fear of more like it. You got this big, big, now we're talking big, obsidian guy coming at Hellboy with his fist drawn back. The right one. And its a big fist. Almost looks as if the clenched fingers are an anvil. The body is like a black ice sculpture. Perfect. The head however, not so nice. Big and bulbous as if something inside is about to explode at any moment. Rising out of one ear, pushing to get free, is a bat. It's snarling, showing some real ugly bat teeth.

Hellboy, he looks impressive as well. He and Wilbur (a.k.a. the Obsidian

Giant) are about the same size, and Hellboy, he has a look on his face that looks very far away from pleasant, and his Big Right Hand (a.k.a. the Right Hand of Doom) is drawn back so far it looks like this punch (lacking economy of motion all the way) is being drawn all the way from hell, and when it hits it will knock its target all the way to the heavens.

And for those paying close attention to detail, in this splash panel we can see on the bed the horrible slab of meat that is Naomi. It is boiling with maggots. Her hair is coming off on the bed in patches.

Another note: The walls are literally made of wing-flapping bats and squirming rats that look half the size of an armadillo.

Darkness swells around the feet of Hellboy and the Obsidian Giant, like a splashing pool of sewage. This is drawn and inked and painted so carefully, so perfectly, we can almost hear the wind from their fists.

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